Choreography: Ruth Page and Bently Stone
Music: Jerome Moross
Frankie and Johnny were lovers: Oh, lord, and how they could love. Swore they’d be true to each other, True as the stars above. He was her man, but he done her wrong.
The ballad, “Frankie and Johnny”, was written about a legendary couple whose love goes awry. Ms. Page and Mr. Stone choreographed the ballet about the famous duo and the American lifestyle in the early 1900’s. Using the melodic theme from the well-known ballad of the same name, Moross shapes the music to reflect the early swing forms that were heard around 1912. Michael Blankfort assisted Moross in writing the storyline for the ballet. The Salvation Army Sisters sum up the ballet story with the philosophical words: This story ain’t got no moral, this story ain’t got no end. This story just goes to show you that you can’t put no trust in any men.
It is generally believed to be the first American ballet because all the elements-choreography, music and libretto are rooted in Americana. Ms. Page spoke of her ballet as a “serio-comedy” that is down-to-earth, crude, funny, wicked and realistic, unlike many of the European ballets that idealized life and focused attention on swans, insects and spirits.
World Premiere: 1945-1946 Season, Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo
Kansas City Ballet Premiere: October 11, 2001, Kansas City, Missouri